In the first of today’s Elite Eight games in the NCAA Tournament, the Butler Bulldogs continued a second consecutive improbable Final Four run by knocking off the Florida Gators in overtime by a score of 74-71.
Shelvin Mack danced his way through the Gators’ defense en route to 27 points, while Matt Howard had 14 points and five rebounds. Vernon Macklin had 25 points for Florida.
Butler was down nine points with seven minutes remaining in regulation, but a layup by Howard and three-pointers by Chrishawn Hopkins and Shawn Vanzant helped reduce the lead to three. Two straight buckets by Mack with about three minutes left tied the score. Howard had a chance to put the Bulldogs ahead with two free throws with 31 seconds remaining, but he made only one, and Erving Walker missed a three-point attempt as the clock expired with the score tied at 60.
Butler led through much of the overtime period. Walker hit a three with 1:42 remaining to give Florida a 70-69 lead, but Mack quickly answered with a three of his own. He added two more foul shots to seal the game for Butler.
Butler will face the winner of tomorrow’s contest between Kansas and VCU to determine its Final Four opponent.
Butler’s March Madness run last year went all the way to the national championship game, where it finally lost to Duke. Despite being a No. 8 seed this year and losing five games in the lowly Horizon Conference, they’re at it again.